I've been doing a lot of soul searching and web searching in regards to my anxiety disorder. Initially, I had hoped that my research would lead me to some fantastical cure for my anxiety, or at least a highly effective coping mechanism. Both efforts failed pretty miserably. I did, however, reaffirm what I already knew, that I suffer severely from social anxiety disorder, or SAD (what a shitty, and highly accurate nickname for this condition).
I have been very "SAD" lately, and feeling hopeless. I've been experiencing all of the tell-tale signs and side effects of social anxiety disorder. I'm slowly becoming a reclusive shut-in, my relationships are suffering greatly, and my anxiety is trumping my ambition. My entire life has felt like a giant game of tug and war, and I'm always on the losing team. There's an old Native American tale (and I'm paraphrasing here) about how every person has two wolves battling inside of them for control over their spirit. One wolf is good, and the other is evil. Ultimately, we choose which wolf to feed, and allow to win. I feel like instead of having a good wolf and a bad wolf, I have an ambitious wolf and a severely depressed, slightly suicidal wolf, who simply wants to stay in bed all day and eventually just die in its sleep so it doesn't have to face another battle with life.
I know that is probably one of the most depressing things you've ever read, it's one of the most depressing things I've ever written. (We can just marinate in this depressing statement for a moment, if you'd like. It might give the rest of what I have to say a bit more of an impact. So let's simmer here for one more second . . . yes, my life really is as tumultuous as that statement alludes. Pretty bleak stuff, isn't it? I think we've simmered long enough, back to your regularly scheduled blog post)
Since dropping out of school, I've not really done a whole lot of anything. My parents are urging me and expecting me to get a job, or try to start some online classes. The thing is, I get anxiety thinking about the amount of anxiety trying to hold down a job will cause me. For the most part, I can hide my anxiety, (or so I think) no one outside of my immediate family, other than my neighbor, who is like a little brother to me, so I lump him into family, even knows that I suffer from any kind of anxiety. In school, people just thought I was shy, or a nerd, or a bitch (I got called of the above, and picked on for years, which looking back, probably only heightend my social anxiety). Hiding the level of anxiety that I experience on a daily basis in social situations is exhausting. It's like running a mental marathon. Part of my condition causes me to obsess over minute details and constantly live in fear that I am being judged. With a job, you are constantly being judged on how well you handle details, and if you mess up, you don't get paid. It's a terrifying thought for me to wrap my head around. I so desperately want to be independent and self-sufficient, but my anxiety is physically debilitating.
If I want to postpone getting a job, I have to seek out some form of education. The only thing is, I have no idea what I want to do, or what I can do. School has always been one of the greatest sources for my anxiety. I am incredibly smart and capable of breezing through any course, (that's not intended to sound arrogant) but the physical act of attending a class paralyzes me with fear. When I am sitting in a classroom, I am constantly bombarded with waves of fear. I feel like everyone is judging me, and staring at me, and just waiting for me to slip up and say or do something stupid. I've always sat in the back of classrooms (if possible) to avoid the eyes of my peers boring into the back of my head. When professors ask a question to the class, I always know the answer, but I physically cannot raise my hand to answer it out loud (the worst teachers are the ones who just want you to blurt out an answer without even raising your hand. I've always thought those teachers were put on this Earth for the soul purpose of trying to kill me).
Sure, there are online classes, but even those freak me out. With an online class, there is still electronic correspondence with instructors. Writing an email to a professor takes every fiber of my being, because I don't want to look like an idiot. I obsess over every period and comma. I actually have to psych myself up just to open up a blank email tab, because I'm that terrified of speaking (actually just typing) to another human being. Furthermore, when it comes down to deciding on what to major in, I'm lost. I am interested in many areas, and capable of doing so many things (well, capable if we remove the anxiety cards from the table), but I have to consider my SAD when it comes to planning my career path. This is a world that thrives on communication, the one thing I dread most in life. There aren't really many jobs out there that cater to people who can't order a sandwich in public without rehearsing their order a thousand times in their head before the waitress comes, so they don't appear ignorant.
Based on my research, the best career for people who suffer from anxiety is actually writing. The one thing I enjoy doing most in this world. The only problem is that this is a very difficult career to make a living in. Trust me, homegirl isn't getting a dime off of this blog, and she doesn't anticipate any cash coming in anytime soon. Who wants to pay a whiney shut-in to write about being a whiney shut-in? No one. Perhaps if I had some connections in the literary world? But connections require communication, and I can't even communicate with my friends. I've avoided Facebook for months. One, because the site is completely overrated (who actually gives a shit about Farmville?) and two, I don't want to look like a complete loser without a job or a college degree. Want to know what's really depressing, the fact that the people I thought were my friends haven't even tried to get in touch with me outside of Facebook. I've not gotten a text or phone call in months. What a great morale boost, eh?
So here I am, completely alone, with no idea what I am going to do with my life. A part of me wants to look into therapy of some sort, but cognitive behavioral therapy and some antidepressants really don't sound all that swell. I don't have many people to talk to, because no one really understands what I'm going through, and not many people seem to care enough to even try and understand. Maybe this huge sense of isolation is the main reason people with SAD end up offing themselves at some point. (Don't worry, I'm not at that point yet) I just wish I knew where to begin when it comes to getting better.
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.